The Importance of Social Media Marketing
To many businessmen and women alike, the recent craze for social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Digg, Delicious and about 300 others seems to be silly and juvenile. And in some ways, that is exactly what social media and web 2.0 is all about – putting a personality online. However, there is a whole separate avenue of thought that you should consider. First and foremost your business decisions should be governed by their likelihood to contribute to the bottom line – revenue. The importance of social media marketing cannot be overstated when it comes to enhancing your business profitability.
There are numerous strategies on how to use social media marketing in a business context, which is in and of itself a bit of an oxymoron since by their very nature these social media sites are often anti-commercial. Much has been written and said about their power to leverage attraction marketing principles to the masses and in that approach they can be a very effective tool. However, there is another simplistic way that social media marketing can very effectively enhance your business. The bottom line is that Google loves social media sites – it devours them. Often times a post on a popular social media site may hit page #1 of Google in mere minutes. You see Google wants “relevant” information and it gives these social media sites huge credence right now. In the future, that may change, but it is certainly the trend of the day. So, how do you capitalize on this trend?
The first thing to understand is that you have to treat social media marketing as a tool, and, like every tool, it has to be used wisely. The importance of social media marketing is largely attributed to two reasons: for one, these sites are extremely popular with Google and get noticed quickly, for two, they are generally very high PR (page rank) sites and carry a lot of SEO weight (meaning they are very beneficial links to have). The most effective strategy is not to try and turn a social media outlet into a commercial one – this will not go over well. So don’t do heavy sales copy on your social media pages. Instead, use them as very informative and useful free information outlets to attract people to your business services. You can publish some articles on them, or give away some free tips, etc… Find a way to add a “social component” to your business that is laid back and casual and takes a “teach first” approach. Then, use the copy to work in a few links back to your main business sales site. This will allow you to nonchalantly move people into your sales funnel without them feeling like you are “selling” them as well as create high PR links to your site and sales pages.
Remember that the prime goal of social media marketing is to “expand” your business into another audience and you can’t do that with the same traditional commercial approach. This is the arena to be casual and to “give away” a lot of free information. In fact, one tip that works great is to provide a special link from your Twitter page, for example, that allows anyone who goes to your business page a special “coupon code” or a “free report” or some other free bonus that makes them feel like you are treating the social community differently and better than everyone else. This little trick can work wonders for you.
The benefits of social media marketing are two-fold: SEO benefits and expanding the business base. One may be more important to you than the other. In other words, it is entirely possible that your primary goal is to use social media marketing to simply assist in your SEO efforts for your site. If that is the case, then you will likely not be putting forth as much effort trying to fit in with the social media community and will largely be treating the social media sites as mere link building sites for SEO benefit. That may be a good way to start, but keep in mind, traffic is traffic, and if you put the extra effort into actually attracting customers through your social media sites as well, you may be rewarded with an expanded customer base in the process.
To use social media marketing for SEO benefits, you need to think of building a web of sites all of which are nothing more than a set of entry points into a sales funnel which lead back to your primary site. From an SEO standpoint, this can produce some big results. As an example, you could go out and create a site on Twitter, Hubpages and Facebook – all of which would be designed to direct people back to your primary business site. Now, through intelligent design and use of proper SEO linking strategies (beyond the scope of this article) you would have created a mini web of entangled sites that all drive not only traffic, but increased page rank, backlinks and authority to your primary business site. This in turn would add to the authority of your business site and aide in its rise up the SERPs (search engine results pages) which, of course, will lead to more organic traffic coming your way. Now this is a simple example, but you could scale it out to have hundreds of these social media sites and pages (remember, you can have more than one page or even more than one account on each site) all working in unison to create a huge social media network for your primary business site.
The importance of social media marketing to your business cannot be overstated. You have to think out of the box a little bit, and it does take some effort and planning. However, these sites can be setup rather quickly and easily and by integrating them into your SEO efforts and customer acquisition and marketing, you will surely see very solid results. The best approach is a combination of efforts, not merely focusing on SEO benefits or purely customer acquisition, but both in unison.